Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Inspiring. Whodathunk.

Yesterday brought the VERY unexpected news that this blog was nominated for a 2010 BlogLuxe Award, in the 'Most Inspiring' category.  Wait, what?  Inspiring? 

I have to tell you: as of Sunday night, I'd decided to stop blogging. I don't say this to be sensational or melodramatic. The reasoning was pretty simple. When hashing it out with Mr NilsenLife, I uttered these exact words:  I don't think I'm inspiring anyone with what I'm writing - least of all myself.  

To quote a favorite phrase, again - 'the true miracle is in a changed perspective.'  Finding out the very next morning, that what I write is considered inspiring - to even just a few people? That right there is a little Monday Morning Miracle.

Now:  in these awards, there are many MANY incredible bloggers nominated.  Some of my blogging peeps have been nominated right along with me - shout out to Mommypants and Squashed Bologna! - and of course one of my own inspirations, Heather of The Extraordinary Ordinary.  If any of you are looking for some good writing, the sites listed in this category are pretty much the Blogging Hall of Fame.  So I've no illusions that I'm on tap to win this thing, but I'm so honored to be nominated alongside such incredible writers, and in a category that tells me the simplest things can be inspirational. 

Head over to the 2010 BlogLuxe Awards page, and check out all the amazing bloggage that's out there.  If you're so inclined, you can follow the easy steps to cast your vote.  You can vote every day, from all forty-six of your email accounts.  If you're so inclined.

I'll just get back to blogging here.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Raised by Wolves, or, What A Girl Learns from Brothers

It is late. The kids are very tired, and up way too late. Big Sister and Baby Sister are in full voice, weeping about the injustices of the world and OneLastBinkWatah!!

Mom lays down the law. Insists the lights are going out and the noise will stop. It is quiet for a brief second.  The Brother - the Lone Male in the room - mutters Well. That didn't achieve much, did it?

The silence is deafening - at least it is until Mom's snorts break up the whole off-to-dreamland vibe.

So I started thinking about the lessons you learn from brothers - in my case, two brothers.  It might be a stretch to argue that you learn everything you need to know about the human condition from male siblings, but there is a fair bit of core knowledge to be gained.

To wit:

Drama is generally off-putting to a guy.  Especially drama for the sake of more drama.

There will be smelliness.  There will be a lot of sweat.  Most likely some naked smelly sweat in your life.  And not in a good way.

When boys get mad at each other, they hit each other.  They'll probably yell, loudly. And then they're over it.

It's not all about you.  Sometimes, in fact often, their perplexing behaviors have nothing to do with you.

Occasionally, they just don't want to talk.  At all.  Not about feelings, not about what's for dinner. (doesn't matter how much you've got to say.)

Dirt is a good thing.  Dirt is a tool, a plaything, an occupation all of its own, and its removal will be just as messy as its acquisition.

Climbing trees has merit.  As does climbing rocks, but these are less readily available.

There will always be some sport in which a guy takes interest.  Probably several, but always at least one. [Corollary to this: there will typically be at least one machine or mechanical item in which a guy takes interest.  This might be an iPhone, this might be a chainsaw, this might be a sewing machine.  It is the mechanics, make no mistake.]

I had my little brother visiting today, and he made me cry laughing, remembering the time he & my older brother decided I needed to snap out of my latest Mood.  Imagine trying to be your Most Pissed Off 16 Year Old Self, and having your brothers croon this to you:

Kiiiiiirsten, your conscience is calling yooooooou!
Don't be so sad and blue! 
Time for a cheery you.

Yeah.  Didn't really work for me either.

Now, I've already posted about some of the things I might've missed out on, not having a sister.  And really, what can you do about birth order and sibling gender?  You just gotta suck it up.

But readers:  have I missed anything big? Anything glaring?  Now's the time for those guys who keep *saying* they read the blog to step up & tell me everything I missed - or even better, what you males learned from your sisters! Time for the girls who loved (or tolerated) their brothers to let me know how they changed your life.

If you don't tell me I might get my brother to make up a song about you.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Going all Retro with a [gasp!] JOURNAL

Do you remember your first journal?

I'm not talking about a Dear Diary sort of thing, not one with dates and days of the week that required details of every day.  I'm thinking about the blank book - hundreds of empty pages waiting for anything that you're willing to commit to paper.

My first ever journal entry, dated June 12 1985, was 2 lists: Guys I Love and Movies I Love.  (Kevin Bacon & Footloose topped both. Sigh.  They're still up there.)

The very last entry in that same blank book was the night before I got married - in that one book I have documentation of the most intense, silly, and emotional years of my life.  (And no, now you mention it I'm not sure where it is.  Yikes!)

What, me? Write a lot? Um... maybe?

So I've been trying to unravel a bit of a knotty issue in my head in recent weeks. (Not naughty, sadly. Just...knotty.)  The sort of thing that's isn't front & center in your brain, but the kind of abstract thinking that pops right up if you have a quiet moment in the shower, or as you drive to the pool or wait for water to boil.

I find myself eyeing my current journal - the leather-bound thick-papered book that has laid on my bedside table since I was pregnant with Cecilie.  Haven't written a blessed thing in it since I was newly pregnant with Annika - almost exactly three years ago.  And yet my thoughts lead me to the creamy blank pages:  waiting for lines of slanting black ink in which I slowly untangle the mental morass.

Is there really a place for journaling when there's a blog?

Up to this point, I would've argued No.  I would've argued that blogging is quality-control - a necessary check on the maudlin, the whiny, the self-indulgent.  It forces a discipline on the writing that ultimately makes the content more interesting not only to a reader, but to me.

But awareness of your audience also forces the writer to leave certain content on the sidelines.  Believe it or not, even a blogger has limits about what she'll share.  Here is where a journal leaps up for its time in the sun:  a journal offers total, open acceptance.  It's just me, the page, and the pen.  Honesty - and ideally, a little clarity - is the only way forward.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

When Your Story Starts

Came across this picture over the weekend, sorting through boxes of old photos:

It's my high school graduation.

My clearest memory of that day is the ache of my cheeks from smiling that much - as broadly as you can see in the photo - for the entire day.  Every single waking moment of it.

Don't get me wrong:  my high school years were pretty happy years - reasonably straightforward, filled with a lot of sports, a group of truly amazing friends (see you Thursday ladies!!), and a couple of great boyfriends.   I had nothing to complain about.

But on a deep, depths-of-the-soul level was always the feeling that there would be more - that I would be more.  I never felt that I wholly fit the skin of a perky suburban cheerleader, and I lived through those years with the vague sense that there was so much more Kirsten yet to discover.

This was not the dark emo-angst that leads one to carve in bathroom stall doors, or start wearing Sex Pistols t-shirts.  (In fact, when I flirted briefly with an all-black goth look my mother just laughed and said it was cute.)  Rather, it was as if I'd been let in on part of a Big Secret, and that all I had to do was bide my time until all would be revealed.

The day I graduated, the thought that ran through my head on a constant loop was this:  "Now is when my story starts.  Today is when everything starts."

I was headed out into the world, and I was so ready to make it mine.  I wanted to travel - and in fact had booked a EuRail Pass to depart a week later.  I wanted to expand every horizon, to live in ways I'd only read about in books.  I knew with total clarity that I was on course to meet the person I'd always wanted to be - that the coming years would be challenging, maybe scary, but they would be MINE.

There is a point to all this reminiscing (beyond it being June, and graduations happening all around me.)

My oldest had a rough time at school this year - the social dynamics of first grade these days are as complex as anything I ran up against as a 10th grader.  I have watched her transform, as a result, into a very different version of my Cecilie-girl - more introspective, more cautious, much more sensitive to the judgement of others.

Part of my heart breaks that she's learned some of these lessons so early.  But part of me wants to tell her about my graduation day - to tell her that there is so much living yet to come.  SO MUCH that she will learn, so much in which she'll triumph AND fail, so many areas in which she'll grow.

What I would tell my 18-year old self that long-ago day in June is pretty much what I would tell my 8-year old now:  every day is when your story starts.  Every day can be yours, on your terms.  All I had done, that June day, was reach the point where I was ready to see, and ready to grow.   I hope Cecilie is ready for that sooner than I was.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day

It is an incredibly disturbing thought to a 21 year old.

You're hanging out with your new-ish boyfriend, he's helping you babysit two funny little boys that you've watched forever, and instead of taking the odd moment to notice your guy's broad shoulders or razor-sharp cheekbones, the thought that pops into your head, entirely unbidden is I bet he'd be an incredible father.

What?!?! Where'd that come from?

It took a little over seven years from that day to see his parenting in action.  But from the very first day - the day our baby arrived five weeks early and Torbjorn had to hop on a plane from Ireland to get to the hospital on time - from the very first day he has been incredible.

Kids love this man:  he's sillier than a 5 year old, he'll almost always read 7 stories instead of 3, and he has no hesitancy in doing a diving roll on the grass to announce his arrival home from work.

Under all the fun, however, are the qualities that make him an incredible father:  his fathomless patience, a quirky perspective on the world, a curiosity that trumps caution [yes, it's a good thing because I'm cautious enough for the both of us], and at his very core, a profound love and respect for the state of childhood.

He is a tremendous father.  I'm lucky to be along for the ride.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Supertasting - the NC17 post

Don't know if you saw this in the news today - a little piece on 'supertasters', and a study that has been released indicating that genetically, certain people are more likely to prefer highly salted foods.

Tonight, in honor of all those salty supertasters out there, I thought I'd offer you a few links that are a little (ok, a lot) saltier than you would typically run across here on the NilsenLife posts.  I'm not just being sensational - a few of these really are outrageous, but they made me laugh until I snorted and then maybe I laughed some more.

Seeing as how I've been stalking the friendly guys over at Trader Joes, it brought to mind a long-ago post from Sweatpants Mom: Soy Rage - The Dark Secret of Trader Joes.  Apparently, things are much less friendly in Californian Hawaii-shirtland. This one, not so salty - maybe just ... savory.

These next two posts are for the ladies. If you were thinking about the swimsuit season and how one might [ahem] prepare, I give you Mommy's Still Fabulous's take on things: A Little off the Bottom.  And if that isn't enough to convince you of the rewards of heading south, try Blog Dangerously's The Girl from Ipanema or, How to say "F*** THAT HURTS!" in Portuguese.  

And finally, Valentine's Day is long gone, but this post from Redneck Mommy about a gift her husband heard about through "the boys at work" had me weeping - literally weeping - with laughter.  It is truly truly beyond the pale for some of my more refined readers.  Don't say I didn't warn you.

It's Wednesday.  What else were you going to do??

Monday, June 14, 2010

More than Lovers

All this chat about long distance letter writing might lead you to think that it's strictly the torrid paper romances that weigh heavily on your friendly blogger's mind.

But actually, my thoughts on letters have lead me to the many beautiful friends around the globe that I have loved and then been obliged to leave.

Life has taken me on so many paths - to places far flung and places extremely local - and at each stop I have made what Heather at the Extraordinary Ordinary calls 'heart gut friends.'  These are the friends who own your very spirit almost from the beginning:  the ones who inspire honesty, who call out your wickedest sense of humor, your noblest sense of compassion, and your drunkest protestations of loyalty.

All the chat about letter writing reminds me that I haven't written nearly enough to these friends - not paper, not email, not Facebook.  As they travel the world - to Yemen, to China, to Holland, to Togo, to Germany, to Azerbijan, to Australia - I have tracked their progress, known where they were, but maybe at times have lost the heart-gut connection.

Doesn't mean I've forgotten them.  Their marks on my heart are deep, and permanent.  Before my last big move, from Europe back to the States, my lovely friend Esther (she of the most beautiful heart in the world) protested but how can you move?!? I feel that you will be moving out of my life, not just the country.  As much as her words hurt my heart, I knew it was true that I might not see her for years (and I haven't.  Seven long years later.)  But what I had to tell her that day, what I have to believe, is that my heart-gut friends will only be around the next corner, always.

When I see them, we will pick up immediately where we left off.  When we meet, we will offer great strong genuine bear hugs, and maybe cry and definitely laugh and know that there will be no recrimination for unwritten letters, for un-dialed phones, for unsent emails.  We will sit down immediately and eat and drink and laugh and drink a little more and remember all the things about each other that bind us forever. We will meet new partners, new lovers, new children, and in all likelihood we will love them immediately too.   We will go to sleep - maybe camped out on someone's couch, maybe all tucked up in a newly-remodeled guest room - glowing in the knowledge that we are back with our People.  People who get you, who love you, and will welcome you back into their lives at a moment's notice.  More than lovers:  these friends are My People.

No matter where in the world they are tonight, they are mine.  Y'all know who you are.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Long Distance

Generation X doesn't have many claims to significance.  But, if pressed someday, I will say with confidence to my kids "my generation was the very last one to conduct a relationship through the mail."

It's a unique thing, a long distance love affair managed through envelopes, stamps, ink and paper.

There's the long wait for something to arrive in your mailbox.   There's the initial disappointment when said letter is only one page, two pages, maybe a stack of pictures and not many words.  (No matter how long, it is never long enough.) There is the breathless devouring of the contents, searching for magic phrases and inspired ideas that will remind you of why you're so crazy about this person.  You hunt for the ambiguous phrase, the ones that will stay with you for days and days as you wonder 'did he mean that?'  "if he meant this, then surely he meant to imply that?!"

There may even be a turn of phrase that confuses you - sends you down a rabbit hole of doubt, confusion, misunderstanding.

But here's the thing: the only resolution is your letter in return.

You might have stewed for days, about this little phrase.  You might have obsessed long into the night over what the words meant, specifically.  You have turned it into a proposal, a rejection, or a double entendre, just depending on the hour of day.

But when you write back, you have to play it cool.  You have to keep all options open, whilst trying to make your meaning clear between the flowing lines of cursive.  You play with words, you offer several scenarios, without committing to any of them, all the while trying to craft a letter to triumph all letters - the one that will get the true meaning out, the one that will be the ultimate love letter.

With each successive missive, you do the same thing.  Over and over - until the letters get gradually shorter as you get closer to meeting in the airport, the train station, the bus depot. 

There is an enforced delay, between dropping the letter into the red postbox adorned with Air Mail stickers and a variety of stamps and the m.a.n.y. days whilst you wait for response.  The delay in which you wonder if you made yourself clear.  In which you wonder if he'll answer the Big Question that you'd tossed in there so casually.

It's nothing less than Art, this long-distance relationship.  And it's an art that my kids will never know.   When their time comes, when they meet a heart-breakingly gorgeous Scandinavian who approaches English in a whole new way, they will have Skype, text, email, instant messaging.

Actually, who am I kidding?  By the time they're doing this, Skype will seem as antiquated as the rotary phone. My kids will never be forced to imagine what might be going on in a continent 6000 miles away, will never be obliged to craft a whole Parallel Theory of Post Feminist Romance from the book Grapes of Wrath in an effort to not be obvious, will never be forced to wait for days and weeks to find out if you bared your soul to the right person.

Those relationships will always miss something that mine had. Has.  The alchemy of paper, words, and distance:  the stuff that romance is made of.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Bloggers - Are you my new pen pals?

I write a damn good letter.  I just have to put that out there.

Back in the day, I used to buy special stationery, chosen specifically for the intended recipient.   I would mull over the contents of the letter for days, finally writing AN OUTLINE (!!!) to guide me as I wrote, and man, did I write.  Page after page of carefully crafted prose, words upon words upon words.  Always made sure to include a small bit of humor, a few heartfelt anecdotes, and the luckiest recipients got hand-drawn illustrations in the margins - little cartoons of all that I'd gotten up to that week, or winding vines painted in watercolor.

Yes, I was a complete nerd. And I can imagine receiving one of these intensely crafted mini-novels might have been a little...overwhelming.

I had a friend scan & email me a letter this week - one she'd found in her archives, one that was vintage NilsenLife, actually, way before I even imagined a NilsenLife.  I'd photocopied pictures of me and a boyfriend, and mused at length about what the relationship meant (before digressing to discuss a recent trip to Paris, and plans for post-grad life as an English major.)

Got me thinking.

There really aren't any letters like this being written anymore.  At least, not by my peeps.  Not even by me.

You come across old books in a used book shop - entire books devoted to the correspondence between one dry old Victorian botanist and his mentor.   Sometimes I think about these sort of books as I fire off the 493rd email of the day - what if someone were to collect all the emails I send?  What if I become outrageously famous for.... I dunno, my chocolate chip cookies, say, and someday someone wants to piece together my Early Years.  Really?  All these million emails I send will serve to give someone a picture of who I was, way back in the early part of the century?

It's a little sobering.

I will say this:  I'm pretty wordy in my writing, even still.  In a society driven to shorten to 140 characters or less, I continue to get hung up trying to use my big words on Twitter.  I continue to send over-long emails asking a whole series of questions, and cover all manner of Big Ideas.  But instead of waiting anxiously to see if you got a return envelope in the mail that day - or the next, or the next - all you have to do is make the smallest 'click!' on the margin to check one of your many virtual inboxes.

In a way, it's instant gratification.  In a way, for those letter writers among us, something's been lost.  The craft of the letter - gone.

Maybe the blog is the new letter? 

I have more - much more - to say about this.  I might need to take you down memory lane tomorrow, to tell you all about the searing heart-on-sleeve letters my poor husband used to get in his mail cubby.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Morning Person

It is 5.30 in the morning.

Who gets up at 5.30 in the morning?

I do.


Any one of my college roommates would snort with laughter if they knew this.  My husband can vouch for it, as can my kids:  I am not a morning person. For the majority of my life, I have been slow to wake, grumpy for at least the first hour I am awake, and before coffee entered my life (O Happy Day!) I don't know how my family tolerated me.

but this is precisely why I am up at this hour.

I've asked myself often in recent weeks - how is it that you've convinced yourself to crawl out from under the duvet at dawn? The answer, when it came, sweet & simple.  This is the hour I am most Me.  The hour when I am Kirsten - thinker of thoughts large and small, teller of jokes, reader, writer, runner - and yes, Mom and Wife.

It is silent.  I have the time to start my engines - to sit quietly, to think, to dream. Most days I go for a run, and come back to a still-sleeping house.  This gives me the chance to stretch, to wash my face, to pour a cup of coffee before I ever have to have a conversation with anyone.

Carving out this hour at the beginning of the day - these minutes where I am not asked for anything except for honesty with myself - has changed everything.  I start the day having reached cruising speed, not lurching from the starting line awakened by the screams of a toddler wanting MOMMMEEE or a 5 year old putting his index finger in my ear.  I start the day having checked in with myself, having made sure I know I'm still in there somewhere, and then can spend the rest of the day being all the other Kirstens that people need me to be.

What about you?   Do you have a point in the day where you feel most like You, instead of Mommy/Sweetheart/MrsNilsen?  (Well, I hope you don't feel like Mrs Nilsen, because that would be, you know, weird.)

Monday, June 7, 2010


I've decided to stop feeding my kids.

Now before you get all twitchy about this, and go calling Child Protection Services, hear me out.

I'm not saying I'm going to stop cooking for my kids.  Not saying I'm going to stop shopping for nutritious food for our house. (And miss a trip to Trader Joes?  Fuggeddabouddit.)

I'm just not going to feed them. I'm not going to have the discussions at every meal about how many more bites count as 'done.'  I'm not going to insist that they eat carrots AND tomatoes.  I'm not going to serve up pasta with the sauce and noodles separated.  I'm definitely not buying special snacks that I know they'll eat so that they "have something to get them through."

Maybe they will feel exhausted by 10am without any breakfast on board. Maybe they will feel the pinch of the looooooong stretch between lunch and supper without snacks. Maybe they'll go to bed hungry.

I am constantly reminding my kids to be so grateful for the food on their table (even whilst assiduously avoiding the time-honored "starving children in Africa" Mom Speech.)  I can sermonize all I want about how kids in our country, in our town, maybe even our neighborhood lack the resources to get food three times a day, never mind snacks. But do they ever hear it?  Do they ever wonder what it might be like to live hungry?

My own crazy little theory is that it might not be the worst thing in the world to know what hungry is.   It might be the best illustration of all, to know the feeling of your stomach trying to eat itself. Knowing EMPTY.

I think all of us could do with a little bit of Empty in our lives, one way or another.   Whether it is the pain of an empty belly, the twitchy silence of a room empty of media noise, the unsettled feeling that comes with an empty shopping cart in Target - we could all do with a little Empty in our lives.

The inspiration for this post came from the prompt of Emptiness at the One Word at a Time Blog Carnival.  A week later, I'm not sure it counts as part of the carnival, but I wanted to give credit where credit was due. :) 

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Trader Joe's & Desperate Housewives

The first time it happened to me, I shook it off as a fluke.  The college-aged kid behind the register took forever to slide my celery, frozen waffles, and edamame across the scanner.  He asked me whether I'd tried the the Cuban-style black beans before, and asked if I thought they were healthier than standard black beans.  He stopped.  Literally stopped, looked me in the eye and waited for my answer before scanning a bag of dried mangoes.

Meanwhile I was thoroughly distracted by his paw-like hands.  Seriously.  They were just enormous. He was a tall guy, but his hands - totally out of scale.

The next time, I thought it might be a joke. This day, the checkout guy was maybe post-grad age, dark haired and serious. He asked me about the weather outside - it was early spring, and just starting to warm up.  I hesitated, then ventured that the heat was ok, I guess. He stopped short, made full eye contact, and asked in a sincere way why I wasn't sure about this beautiful weather.  Mumbling about having already put away winter gear,  I was feeling a bit flustered.  Again, stopping short with the scanning he looked me straight in the eye and with a shy smile murmured I wish someone would sort my clothes out for me.

This is when I started looking around to see if there was maybe a Punk'd camera down in the frozen aisle. What?!?!

People?  I'm 37.  The days of picking up grocery-store checkers is long gone - oh wait, I NEVER HAD THOSE DAYS - and let's just say I'm nowhere near the league of Real Housewives of New York.   I really haven't been hitting the aisles of Trader Joes in some sexy skinny jeans and a low cut top. You will forgive me if I thought I was somehow part of Ashton Kutcher's show.

I approached my next trip to Trader Joes with trepidation.  I selected my items for the least conversational value, and dragged all three kids along with me.  Just wanted to test a theory here.

Rolled up to the shortest line:  lo and behold, it was Mr Unsorted Clothing.  Several weeks later, there's no way he recognized me as his Clothes Sorting Mom, and he starts chatting with me about books.  Books, people!   Have I read To Kill a Mockingbird?  Atlas Shrugged?  Love In the Time of Cholera? He starts talking to me - at length - about an ethics course he took, and how it changed his life.  Meanwhile I'm bagging my own groceries and wondering about the parallel universe I've entered.

I'm in the wilds of suburbia, trying to buy Gorilla Munch cereal and organic apples, and I am part of this kid's spiritual journey.

Today took me over the edge.  Was just trying to buy a can of coffee.  The kid at the checkout examined the label, and wanted to know if i thought his brother, who was a real coffee snob, would like my brand. And did I think it was worth it to buy the free-trade kind?

I've been too bashful to ask other mothers-of-a-certain-age if they have experienced this phenomenon.  But now I've just got to come out - to tell the world that I am a HUGE FAN of Trader Joes' HR policies.    Chat up the rumpled housewives - tell 'em your darkest secrets.  Apparently, they'll be so confused you can load up their bag with the 42 extra packs of Cinnamon Flavor Soy Crisps without them even registering.

Friday, June 4, 2010

The Truth about Eight Year Olds, And A NilsenLife Guest Post!

Last night I think my head might have spun around on my shoulders and I just *might* have birthed a few aliens from my throat.  I was THAT MAD.

A brand-new pair of swim goggles had gone missing:  a mere 48 hours after purchase.  A mere 24 hours after being the subject of a long lecture on the value of said goggles, and how important it would be to keep track of them the whole swim season.

As I demanded to know where they might possibly be, I was met with blank stares.  I huffed.  I puffed.  And I BLEW the house... no wait, wrong story.  But I did huff and puff, and ask the stupidest question that a parent ever asks:  "WHY?!?!?"  

But wait - this time my eldest was ready with an answer.

Because, Mommy.  I lost them because I'm seven and half, and that means that I'm almost eight.  You see, seven year olds are lovely children, really sweet and good at not losing things.  But eight year olds are dreadful, Mommy.  And that's why I lost them.


Some days are better than others, in this parenting gig.  Some days I'm able to snort with laughter about the comments like that.  Other days, I hit the wall at 7.30pm and literally count minutes until I can be alone.  Until I can stop being everything to them.  Until I can sit quietly and try to think sane thoughts.

I'm guest posting about one of those nights over at my friend Cheryl's blog Special Sauce in the House today.  Click on over, show her some love, and read about my Crazy Eight Card.
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